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some thoughts on white privilege

grrrlvirus:

all white people, whether we consider ourselves racist or not, directly benefit from racism through white privilege. all white people are responsible for racism because we benefit from it at the expense of other people. an individual prejudice based on race is not the same this as the long history and current complex structure of systemic racism, white supremacy and colonialism. white people often have a hard time seeing white privilege because it is our privilege not to see it. we are oblivious to it because we don’t know what living with racism (and without white privilege) is like. but here are two small examples of white privilege operating in my own life: 1) i was arrested for shop lifting. i was not charged. if i were a woman of colour i most likely would have been. because of my whiteness i therefore do not have a criminal record, giving me access to many freedoms that would have been taken from me had i been charged. 2) my sister, who is also white, went missing. my family called the cops. at first they tried to give us a run around but we managed to convince them to look for her. they did look for her. they took it seriously. because a white girl was missing. meanwhile the running statistic is that there are 500 ‘missing and murdered’ native women in canada, hundreds of women who are not being looked for because they are not white. these women’s lives are just as valuable as my sister’s and their loved ones love them just as much as i love my sister. whiteness means that the cops look for us, so therefore our lives are considered valuable. to me this is one of the most terrifying examples of how racism and white privilege operates. and those are just two isolated examples. i benefit from white privilege at the expense of people of colour every day of my life. acknowledging it and understanding how it works are the first steps to undoing it. -clementine

(Source: clementinecannibal.com)

darkjez:

bonjoursex:

darkjez:

[ASK]

You say cultural appropriation “harms” cultures. How?…

To add to this and give a more concrete example:

I went to OWS and saw a lot of white girls walking around with bindis on their heads.  I commented on this, saying that unless you adhere to a religion that is associated with wearing bindis, it’s cultural appropriation.  I said that today it’s rare to find women wearing bindis in many parts of India, so what makes them think they have any right to wear one.  A white girl responds with something along the lines of, “Everyone should be able to wear something they find beautiful, who are you to say it’s wrong to borrow from a culture?  I respect the meaning behind it, I use it as a way to express my spirituality. And if women in India don’t wear it now, why does it matter if I do?”

Rage.  Just, large amounts of rage.  Who the hell said this was “borrowing” and not stealing??  Some other white girl hippie who introduced you to this exotic and quirky way to express yourself?  It is in fact stealing from my culture, which is why Indian women rarely wear bindis anymore.  Western culture invaded and at first, bindis were used by English colonizers to single out, demean, and dehumanize Indian women.  Then, Gwen Stefani or whoever decided they were a cute way to show how in tune with her spirituality she was, and this bindi trend BLEW UP.  And in India, all of a sudden, bindis were being produced simply to be novelty items for Western (primarily white) girls who wanted to be “unique” or “explore themselves.” (Yet another way to show how white privilege exists in all corners of the globe.)   In this way, the West’s cultural appropriation of the bindi DESTROYED all meaning behind something that once meant so much to my culture.  If I wear a bindi, people will most likely think that I am wearing it to make a statement, or to “express myself” or some such bullshit because Western appropriation has erased the meaning of the bindi.

Great example. 

theblacksophisticate:

Asked Anonymous:

The thing about the cultural appropriation debate that rubs white allys the wrong way, is that many POC insist on using terms like “white supremacist”, “imperialist” and “racist” on people who, harmfully or not, just want to appreciate other cultures. This just derails the debate for them, it easily equates to Godwin’s Law, contrast calling all criticism of Israel as anti-semitic.

——————————

Replied DarkJez:

Idk what you want from us…anti-racist activism & battling against cultural appropriation doesn’t really make room for precious white fee-fees. It’s not the job of POCs to make sure our white “allies” (lol) are comfortable with their racist, imperialist, and white supremacist actions. (And note that I said “actions”…idgaf if individuals feel like they’re just soooo not racist. If what they’re doing is racist/imperialist/white supremacist, then that’s a problem.)

Lets be real here, anon: white cultural appropriation has little-to-nothing to do with “appreciating” (lol again) non-whites’ cultures. It’s about feeling entitled to dabble in whatever ~exotic~ cultural forms that gives ‘em the jollies.

If white “allies” are “rubbed the wrong way” every time their professed anti-racist ideologies are contradicted by their behavior, and if they wish to childishly withhold their support of the anti-racist struggle when they are challenged to be better human beings, then good riddance.

karnythia:

dreams-from-my-father:

dreams-from-my-father:

Ok, this is for all the people who inboxed me or reblogged my post about OWS asking for some explanations. I cannot answer each of you individuality and hope you would get this.

By “only *you* could take OWS and make it about race” What exactly do mean?? Do you fucking know me?? Do you have any clue about who I am really ?? From where do you stand to have the audacity to pinpoint me as the “only” person who would me OWS about race ??

Well, let me tell you a bit about me. I am a black female born and raised in Cameroon. My country is currently ranked as one of the poorest in the world with very low human development index - drastically plummeting alphabetization rate, life expectancy in the 40’s, the overwhelming majority of the population living with less than a dollar a day, I could go on and on. All of this is the direct product of centuries of white supremacy, from slavery, to colonialism, to neo-colonialism, to corporatism and neo-liberalism. White supremacy is an abject, cancerous poison that has been destroying the earth and the livelihood of more than 80% of the people on this planet to the benefit of a tiny minority comfortably living in the west. It is among *us* that you will find cheap labor to produce in inhumane conditions those over-priced Ipads, Nike shoes … that you affectionate so much. It is among *us* that you will children not older than 10 ready to search the soil with the bare hands looking for minerals indispensable in the production of those giant flat-screen TV that you affectionate so much or ready to die and kill in diamond financed wars so that the pop-star you affectionate so much can sleep safely on his or her diamond earrings. It is on *us* that your pharmaceutical companies and your government experiment drugs before marketing them at  unaffordable prices for most of *us*. Testing syphilis on Guatemalans wasn’t a first for the U.S. government, they have been doing such things forever and are certainly doing it right now in another part of the world. In 2003, in Douala, in my country, a group of prostitutes was paid by some American researchers to test a cure for HIV. These women were encouraged NOT to use protection with any of their clients. I bet you know none of that right ?? After all why would the western media and people like you care about the life of some black women in a poor country most of you have never heard about ?? Douala is also place where the hunger strikes that swept the world, started in Cameroon three years ago. Sadly no cameras were there when the police fired in the crowd asking for food in Yaounde, Dakar, Egypt and all over the world. You see, these people were not asking for the high-paying jobs they were promised after graduating college. NO, NO, NO. They were only asking for things as simple as some rice or some bread and not to have to prostitute oneself to feed one’s children. Where were those self-proclaimed ‘ardent OWS protesters courageously championing corporations’ back then?? WHERE WERE THEY ?? Wasn’t corporate greed and financial markets betting against food prices worth fighting for back then ??? Was it?? When corporations were raking thousands of billions off the back of 80% of the world population to redistribute it among the 20% confined in the west, did any of you have a problem with it ?? I am actually going to repeat it.

WHEN CORPORATIONS WERE RAKING THOUSANDS OF BILLIONS OFF THE BACK OF 80% OF THE WORLD POPULATION TO REDISTRIBUTE IT AMONG THE 20% CONFINED IN THE WEST, DID ANY OF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH IT ???

Nope, you didn’t and you still DON’T !!!

OWS is against neither corporation greed, nor the oppressive system of white supremacy sustaining it !!! When OWS protesters chant “We are against corporation greed”, they actually mean “We are against corporations not sharing with us 80% of the world wealth they have raked, because you see, we are white and as American/French/ Greek/British etc they owe it to us !!! How there they not share with us the profits of their exploitation of all the brown people ??? How dare they!!!”

Your comment perfectly illustrated why PoC should stay away from OWS. OWS is not against the system, OWS is the system because WHITENESS and IMPERIALISM are at the heart of the problem.

Anyone with half a brain can see through this and this is why I warn any PoC to stay away from this mascarade, we already have to fight our own oppression and we do not need to fight the white man’s war when he is the one oppressing us !!

This is what I loathe so much about OWS and all the white self-righteous and pompous narcissistic pseudo-revolutionists : Their self-entitlement. The idea that us, the brown people, the people of lesser importance, owe it to them to always stand behind them and support them in any of their struggle, because they are of course always on the right side, always right and none of their motives is questionable. And of course, they would owe nothing back to us !! We are the people of lesser importance, none of our struggle is theirs but all of their struggle is automatically ours !!!

Never trust a group of privilege people who claim to be the 99% when they are clearly the 20% living off our backs like parasites.

PoC keep clear !!!

I hope this is clear, because I do not intend to repeat myself and if you have a problem with this, you are fucking free of getting the fuck off my page or hitting the fucking “unfollow” button. 

I have forgotten to add that this also goes for any movement led by white people.

Welp…

Decolonization and 'Occupy Wall Street' - ICTMN.com

adailyriot:

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protest has become a matter of debate in Indian country. Some have chosen to be included under the slogan “We Are The 99%”; others, like me, have not. Many of those who support OWS have come up with their own slogan: “Decolonize Wall Street.” But I simply don’t believe that the indigenous nations on Turtle Island are a part of that 99% equation, let alone that the OWS movement is about decolonization.

One protester, Brendan Burke, said: “Everyone has this problem. White, black. Rich or poor. Where you live. Everyone has a financial inequity oppressing them.”

I assume from his statement that Burke only sees things in white and black. Apparently he is color blind when it comes to red and brown.

As far as financial inequity is concerned, we, the red and the brown peoples of the Americas, have suffered financial inequity ever since the oppressors first invaded our shores. Socio-economic inequity began with the subjugation of our lands through treaties. Annuity payments were late and never the amount negotiated under the treaty. Supplies and food rations that were part of annuity payments were often appropriated by Indian agents and resold for higher prices.

The tragedy at Gaa-mitaawangaagamaag (Sandy Lake) exemplifies the socio-economic inequity of annuity payments. In the fall of 1850, nineteen Anishinaabeg bands from Wisconsin journeyed toGaa-mitaawangaagamaag for annual annuity payments and supplies. The annuity payments and supplies were late and the people had to wait until early December before they received limited sums of money and available supplies. Trying to survive on spoiled and inadequate government rations while waiting for the annuities, 150 Anishinaabeg people died from dysentery and measles atGaa-mitaawangaagamaag. Two-hundred and fifty more, mostly women, children and elders, died on their way back home to Wisconsin. This is but one example of the economic inequity that has been part of the indigenous experience in the United States.

OWS organizers have repeatedly stated the inspiration for their protest is the Arab Spring movement. If this is the case, one may ask how did the indigenous peoples of the Middle East fare from the Arab Spring?

In September 2011, Daniel Gabriel, the SUA Human Rights and UN NGO Director, stated: “While the media focuses all its energy on the Palestinian search for Statehood and the ‘Arab Spring’, it is the reduced indigenous populations of the Middle East who continue to lose out. Time and time again, the world demands justice, democracy and freedom in the Middle East, but it fails in its obligation to demand the same for the minority groups like the Arameans. Today we barely survive in our homeland. But tomorrow we may silently vanish from existence.”

If Arab Spring didn’t flourish for indigenous peoples in the Middle East, how can we expect it to flourish here? If the indigenous peoples in the Middle East are barely surviving in their homelands, can we expect the Arab Spring inspired movement on Wall Street to lessen the oppression in our homelands? Will the actions on Wall Street abate our youth crisis, our teen suicide rate, our domestic and sexual abuse, or our alcohol and substance abuse in Indian Country? Will it heal our broken families and communities? Will Wall Street stop the rape and plunder of Mother Earth by the mining, oil and energy interests? Will it halt the ecocide, ethnocide, linguicide, and genocide of the indigenous peoples in North America? If Gabriel’s words offer any insight, then our historical trauma will not lessen but increase. It will increase in the present generation to the Seventh Generation—and beyond.

Then there is the matter of decolonization. The question is: the decolonization of what, of whom? How can decolonization be a part of the process if the occupiers are occupying occupied land?

The dominance of a white majority involved with the OWS movement explains why decolonization isn’t included in the proposed list of demands issued on September 3. The list of demands includes

  • Separate Investment Banking from Commercial Banks;
  • Use Congressional authority to prosecute the Wall Street criminals responsible for 2008 crisis;
  • Cap the ability of corporations to contribute to political campaigns;
  • Congress pass the Buffett Rule, i.e., fair taxation of the rich and corporations;
  • Revamping Securities and Exchange Commission;
  • Pass effective law to limit the influence of lobbyists;
  • Pass law prohibiting former regulators to join corporations later. 

Where in this proposed list of demands is there anything remotely connected to decolonization? At its core, OWS is about corporate greed, financial accountability, and economic inequity. It’s about a change in the system, although, as Gabriel points out, an Arab Spring doesn’t bring change to the voices of the indigenous. If change is the basic tenant of the OWS movement, then this change should not be the exclusion of indigenous populations in the United States, rather, change should be inclusive.

The OWS movement is, at the present time, about money. The core message seems to be that corporate America and the wealthy need to share the profits. But the question is: How are those profits made? The profits of the wealthy are made through the industries they own. These industries fuel and generate profits. And they create jobs and programs.

The mining, oil, and energy industries generate enormous profits. Those profits come at a cost to Indian country, to say nothing of the environment in general. The new Indian Wars are about the opposition to ecocidal legislative policies and industries that endanger our homelands and our Mother Earth. Part of the struggle is trying to rise above the marginalization that began with colonization and continues through the corporate policies of the mining, oil, and energy industries.

According to Belinda Morris, ”Marginalization is as much a result of colonialism as it is corporatism. One is social, the other economic. From the indigenous standpoint … the struggle does not and cannot exist in a vacuum, it must not allow itself to be subsumed by a movement that, to date, has shown little—if any—recognition of it, let alone respect for it.”

As evidenced by their proposed list of demands, the OWS movement has no intentions of recognizing indigenous concerns or demarginalizing indigenous peoples in the United States. And that’s because the mindset of the majority of occupiers is an intergenerational extension of a colonized mindset. In her Foreword to The New Resource Wars, Winona LaDuke provides insight into the colonized mindset. Regarding “Industrial society, or as some call it, ‘settler society,’” LaDuke writes:

“In industrial society, ‘man’s dominion over nature,’ has preempted the perception of Natural Law as central. Linear concepts of ‘progress’ dominate this worldview. From this perception of ‘progress’ as an essential component of societal development comes the perception of the natural world as a wilderness. This, of course, is the philosophical underpinning of colonialism and ‘conquest.’”

This way of thinking is also present in scientific systems of thought like ‘Darwinism,’ as well as in social interpretations of human behavior such as ‘Manifest Destiny,’ with its belief in some god-ordained right of some humans to dominate the earth. These concepts are central to the … present state of relations between native and settler in North America and elsewhere.”

The “settler society” that LaDuke refers to isn’t from the historical past. It is present in non-indigenous society today. It is the mentality of this “settler society” permeating the mindset of the OWS movement. Their demands aren’t about decolonization. Rather, their demands are about wanting a share of the profits, profits that come from the rape and plunder of the earth and our indigenous homelands.

This isn’t to say that the OWS movement lacks merit. Economic inequities, corporate greed, the mortgage crisis, the unequal distribution of wealth are legitimate concerns. But those concerns have nothing to do with decolonization no environmental justice. As such, the 99% slogan is not inclusive of the myriad of environmental problems that plague both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in the United States.

Wendy Makoons Geniusz writes: “Because of the colonization process, many of us no longer see the strength of our indigenous knowledge. Our minds have been colonized along with our land, resources, people. For us Anishinaabeg, the decolonization of gikendaasowin (Anishinaabe knowledge) is also part of the decolonization of ourselves.”

Geniusz points out that biskaabiiyang means to “to return to ourselves, to decolonize ourselves.”

For many of us, biskaabiiyang is a lifelong process. It is a journey to heal our traumatized inner spirit of the historical past and the historical present. For many of us, our involvement in the struggles that our communities and our homelands face is a part of that healing journey. From this prism, the Occupy movement can be viewed as recognizing the national trauma endured under Corporate America. But it isn’t about the biskaabiiyang of the American people. Rather, it’s about the collusion of corporations and the government to keep us under the yoke of economic inequity and the public’s demand for reformation of a corrupt capitalist system that has infested the world under the umbrella of globalization. And it is the reformation of this system that has led to the present movement of people on the streets of America.

However, should any kind of reformation occur, indigenous peoples will undoubtedly continue to be marginalized and their natural resources exploited. And, as before, we will continue our struggles in the shadows of democracy.

We will need to do this lest we silently vanish from existence.

Robert Desjarlait is from the Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation. He is a free-lance journalist and has been published on issues regarding Indian country. He is a co-founder of Protect Our Manoomin, an Anishinaabe grassroots organization battling against copper mining in northern Minnesota.

How Cultural Appropriation Hurts

openinglinesandlastwords:

The thing about cultural appropriation is that it hurts people in a very real way. 

But when you’re privileged, this is difficult to understand. When you’re privileged, so privileged that you’ve never known what it feels like to be different - when you’ve never known assimilation - than it is difficult to to understand how cultural appropriation hurts and harms. 

When you’re of the majority, you don’t notice how people have changed to be like you, to fit. You don’t notice that we’ve changed our names, tamed our hair, and surgically altered our faces. You don’t notice that we’ve translated our traditions into language you can understand or hidden our mannerisms so that you won’t pick up on stereotypes. You don’t notice that we’ve held our words. 

You don’t notice, so you have trouble seeing how it hurts. So you try on our clothes, our dances, our hair for a day or so - just for fun. The names and words we’ve tried so hard to hide, to anglicize, to whiten, to bleach to the point where they fade away entirely - you’ve taken them on for fun. You’ve tried on our cultures for casual entertainment. Because you think it makes you eccentric or worldly or even accepting. 

But we don’t get this same sort of privilege, this opportunity to try your culture on. Because trying on your culture isn’t for fun. It’s for hiding and for fighting to go under your radar. So why don’t you do me a favor? Give my 16-year-old friend her original nose back and you can have my last name back too. Because I never did enjoy trying to be like you. 

(Source: goinlikeelsie)

Traumatic History Lessons

soydulcedeleche:

strugglingtobeheard:

karnythia:

So, are we going to talk about how it feels for children of color to go to school & find out that their ancestors/grandparents/parents were victims of imperialism & colonialism? That their homes were invaded, they were murdered, raped, enslaved, oppressed, barred from military service, dehumanized, illegally incarcerated, disenfranchised etc? Or about how it feels to find out that you’re still not actually equal?

Everyone keeps talking post-racial America & it was a long time ago so get over it. But, the stories of police brutality, segregation, disenfranchisement, & invasion from 1917, 1997, 2007, & probably 2017 are all rooted in the same racist bullshit. If it’s still going on in the present & it’s your history then what exactly are you supposed to get over? Same shit, different day?

The problem with rhetoric about Welfare Queens, bootstraps, my ancestors never owned slaves, & the president is black so racism is over is that it all hinges on the myth of a level playing field. Meritocracies only work in societies without oppression & that sure isn’t America. We can’t get Americans to stop oppressing each other, never mind the rest of the world. Apparently even when you know (some) history you still end up repeating it. 

People don’t want to talk about brown and black children’s feelings because they are too real. I grew up learning about black history really young, the history of slavery and racism. My father and mother got me books and I had black history flash cards that were like baseball cards with faces of people like Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglas, and Josephine Baker. I went to a group that spent time to teach us about the days of segregation, share cropping, black only schools, lynchings, police brutality. My father taught me about the police and their abuse and misuse of power and their complete disregard of black bodies. I learned this. What was more emotionally distressing in some ways was how this was completely ignored, glossed over, misrepresented in class. How I had to tell the teacher Christopher Columbus certainly didn’t discover America and why were they telling us. How police brutality is real, how white people lynched and brutalized people 50 years ago even, not this 400 year ago slavery bullshit school wants to pump. It distressed me to know so little people knew this history, taught it, cared for it, and how it was glossed over by most all teachers in my public school. While race was an every day reality for me, no one wanted to talk about it. Or when I did, I was racist. This was emotionally fucking distressing.

When I went into my depression after my father passed, I couldn’t even look at that history any more. I avoided all movies about slavery and our painful history (still haven’t seen the Color Purple or the Roots for this reason), I stopped looking up our history, I stopped even having the ability to bear to see pictures of those white smiling faces with black bodies hanging. I raged and I despaired and I sank even lower when I did. And I fought racism every day only to be called racist and treated like shit and ostracized for verbally fighting it. I can’t even imagine how much damage on the mind so much of that shit can do to the youth. To be exposed to our history and how much people disregard it. And us. I’m still picking up the pieces cause when I read my readings on deportation and race and colonialism and imperialism, I shed tears still. I shake and yell and have to take breaks. That shit is not easy. Post-racial America my ass. Every time some black youth gets frisked and harassed by cops, it’s a slap in the face to say that. America doesn’t give two shits and growing up around that, in it, holding your head high through it, wow, that shit can be traumatic. I’m venting a bit.

word. i recall starting out life feeling quite lightweight…only to have this shit heaped on to me eventually. its inescapable. that anyone thinks its post-racial anything just makes me want to go live in a fucking cave. thanks for invalidating the lives of 94798657698768978978 people because shits fine for whites. wtf?

Four Brief Critiques of SlutWalk’s Whiteness, Privilege, and Unexamined Power Dynamics

crustyriotqueer:

Feminist Pizza: Four Brief Critiques of SlutWalk’s Whiteness, Privilege and Unexamined Power Dynamics

peopleofcolor:

Many websites have devoted pages and pages to SlutWalk, an event that has popped up in several North American cities. More criticism is emerging about the privilege, self-involvement and whiteness of perspectives forwarded in the action.

Clearly much of the media, a lot of men and society itself are deeply misogynist and racist. But is the fixation with “slut-shaming” addressing the fact that white supremacy and misogyny remain strong? Or are we having easier conversations — e.g. don’t assault me or pick on me for my choices — in favor of much more challenging ones about sexism and lack of opportunity for women that cut the legs out from under ideals such libertarianism holds dear — meritocracy, the Protestant work ethic and the illusion that everyone regardless of race, class or gender has unlimited free choice?

My first reactions to SlutWalk distill from there…

<!—more—>1.) Reclaiming What?

According to its website, SlutWalk’s organizers “are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.”

And that gets to one of the essentially problematic things of privileged white folks attempting to define for everyone else what works for them personally or because they want a satirical device. When events are about everyone individually for themselves defining whatever they think is good for them, regardless of its impact on other communities (especially communities of color, who disproportionately face the brunt), do communities of color really need to define themselves in such terms?

I thought to myself, after hearing of SlutWalk, about how much language and empowerment is racialized. How would the Mexican-American mothers I know feel about their daughters calling themselves whores? Or the Black mothers of friends react to their daughters calling themselves sluts? Probably not well. Many communities of color have had growing movements against anti-woman language for good reason. For communities of color, even those who aren’t expressly political, there’s a visceral reaction to name-calling aimed at women of color, who are seemingly always the targets of names whose historical, cultural, social and political edge white women will never confront. From ‘welfare queens’ to ‘unwed mothers,’ images are almost always racial. As a Latino male, people who look like me (and Black men as well) are often the ones visualized when people think gender oppression. But white supremacy means Caucasians do not, for the most part, need to think about messaging regarding normalcy and deviance, or that people of color, especially women of color, have been subject to these issues all our lives. Historically, the masses of white women have not fought with women of color, but instead sided with white men in exchange for their own freedoms.

In addition, there’s a painful history in which Black women were the sexual property of white men as legacies of slavery, which white women don’t have as part of their collective memory.

When I consider reclaiming pejoratives, I’m often reminded of what communities of color contend with. The use of racial slurs to empower communities of color has been advocated by some for many years. Yet can anyone really point of a single social, political, cultural or economic advance that is a direct result of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc. referring to ourselves as epithets? Have young people been given important tools to self-actualize and change their objective conditions by calling each other words racists use? Are communities of color more empowered when white people can ironically use racial taunts as reputed endearments? Does anyone seriously entertain the idea that the shock value once derived by using racial slurs in music and media exists in any other fashion now but one in which the power people thought such actions might take away from institutional racism instead got submerged into selling points of “credibility” to consumers?

To a similar point, Kristen Powers sardonically remarks, “Just what the women of the world have been clamoring for: to call themselves sluts. No wonder a 2008 Daily Beast poll found that just 20 percent of women call themselves “feminists,” and only 17 percent would want their daughters to use the label…. SlutWalk defenders say that they’re being ironic, that it’s supposed to be funny that women are turning a word used to dehumanize them into a badge of pride. If you don’t like the slut walks, then you just don’t get the hilarity of women debasing themselves in the name of empowerment.”

2.) Personal Versus Political

One of SlutWalk’s biggest problems is its active effort to decontextualize patriarchy to a super libertarian wet dream of personal preference, without really seeing that the stubborn I’ll-do-whatever-I-want individualism is one of the primary contradictions women face. In reality, women’s disempowerment is institutional, and no amount of visioning the world as one of doing whatever women want takes away the self-doubt women are taught and the limits on what a society that is still anti-woman places on them.

One SlutWalk blog post is typical of so much of this discourse: I like to look attractive to men, I like porn, etc. and this is about others not telling me what to do. Critique whiteness or the idea of the sex industry (porn, prostitution) and its impact on communities of color? You’re a ‘disgruntled misogynist rapist.’ Ask for community accountability for the privilege involved in a terminology that women of color don’t have the same freedoms related to. ‘I could really care less.’

Unquestioned is the desire to be unaccountable to one other, but only ourselves, our moods and personal likes as an organizing aspiration. Corporate media takes no issue with promoting and featuring women perceived to be sexually available to men and seemingly liberated. Such is in part due to the fact that women’s sexuality is a commodity, and that extreme libetarianism (i.e. the idea that the ‘right’ to do, be, and define one’s happiness is the ultimate objective of a social order) is a political ideal under capitalism. We’ve all been sold this idea for “freedom” for years.

But has any successful sociopolitical movement sustained any gain when its primary attraction is the freedom to define yourself by whatever institutionally constructed image you “want”? As I Blame the Patriarchy reminds us, calling oneself a slut in a society that is patriarchal does little more than reinforce men’s ideas of their superiority.

A problem with initiatives where one’s work is all about everyone defining for themselves what’s best is that, as feminist organizer Jo Freeman wrote, the only ones who ever actually benefit are the connected, the privileged and the cunning. History bears out that, in a white supremacist society, those individuals are most assuredly white, and, in a women’s grouping, such are generally white women.

Because we have Western epistemology, some think freedom is being able define our realities. Yet if our realties and dreams are dictated to us by a colonial mentality, then you are asking only to empower yourself in the market. Thus you are only fortifying what you claim to be destroying. Without a thorough understanding of how capital functions in the lives of women and actively rejecting that, one merely supports a set of values already in existence.

Moreover, the SlutWalk drive battles against the social justice basis in which radical feminism has sought kinship by declaring this battle isn’t about institutional violence against women, but one’s right to do a particular thing or two in a society whose anti-woman basis does not change.

3.) White Privilege and What Communities of Color Face

A lack of understanding of practical political realities, especially for cross-sections of communities of color, seems evident related to SlutWalk.

As noted previously, some of this is about language that is racialized. More is about privilege. Rebecca Mott writes about the uncritical adoption by those with the privilege to do so of word ‘slut’ and obscuring the brutality of the sex trade — an underground industry impacting largely women of color in North America. Mott notes embracing prostitution without understanding what such means to women trapped in the business has dangerous implications.

If you want to know what it to be a Slut, a Slut without freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of safety – then place yourself inside the skin of the Ultimate Slut.

Women and girls inside most aspects of the sex trade are raped, battered and murdered whatever they wear, whatever environment they are placed in.

What does any Slutwalk do that makes any practical difference to that?

Instead too many who join Slutwalk say that women – avoids the messiness of girls – choose to be inside the sex trade. That for those women being a Slut is just their work.

So they march in proud solidarity to keep the sex trade running business as normal.

If I am feeling nice I would say that is turning a blind eye to any violence that is the norm inside the sex trade. But today I don’t feel like being kind – I would say it a deeply privileged and selfish attitude, that sees women inside the sex trade as sub-human who are good only to use as propaganda.

How many women who go on and on about being inside the sex trade is just “work”, have done it full-time for several years, with no power or choice over what punters will use them?

How many women who go on and on that it just work, have been in conditions where rape is so normal is cannot be known, where it is normal that women disappear, where no has no meaning?

Mott adds on a comment at We Won’t Submit about a discussion with a leader of the Devati anti-prostitution movement in India. In that country, the writer says, Indian feminists, who have negated the Devati experience as Third World women who in turn have long simply chattel for mens’ sexual desires, support the Toronto-created protest. Yet it is lower caste women who don’t have those luxuries. And rather than fight back and organize to defend the Devati and change the abuses such women face, the idea devolves into simply normalizing their abuse as “sluts,” without understanding such actions could be deeply offensive to these communities, which have long been objectified by the globalized gaze.

In a just as important vein. To The Curb calls to account the idea of cultural imperialism, and to whose benefit.

According to SlutWalk’s website, the event is slated to be reproduced in Argentina sometime this year. It’s the country I was born and raised in, among Spanish, Guaraní and Portuguese speakers – and I can assure you that the word “slut” is not used by anyone there. This is not what we need. I do not want white English-speaking Global North women telling Spanish-speaking Global South women to “reclaim” a word that is foreign to our own vocabulary. To do so would be hegemonic, and would illustrate the ways in which Global North “feminists” have become a tool of cultural imperialism. I will be going back home in about a month, and want to do so without feeling the power of white women bearing down on me from 6,000 miles away. We’ve got our own issues to deal with in South America; we do not need to become poster children to try to make you feel better about yours.

As Struggling to be Heard says, white women have the privilege to think of women of color as an afterthought, a people who implicitly are receptacles for their ideas. “It is white supremacy and its very ideals and systems that make these disputes possible. That make it so that it takes hordes of women of color to say something before white women begin thinking about how they can be more pro-active.”

Criticism of women of color who have spoken out, including in an important piece on South Asian women, has been typically nasty. On its Facebook page, SlutWalk organizers claimed critics called them white supremacists (without ever presenting where such happened), and implored — almost on cue, if you’ve been through the political trenches before —that they’re not white supremacists and that people of color need to speak out about the criticism.

What most white people don’t understand is that critiques aren’t about them getting their feelings hurt about a criticism or the ability to find a person of color to legitimize their ideas to the politically immature. Such is an old tactic many movements have used to divide people of color and put us against each other (and for some people of color to curry favor for their own gain). More importantly, communities of color have long memories and have seen played out many times this sort of advantaging the people of color who will defend the white people or who the white folks like. Almost never do any of these erstwhile defenders of white privilege have any legitimacy, role or relationship in communities of color (even though they’re happy to pull a POC card when defending whites) or any actual institutional power in white organizations. And at the end of the day the only people who are impressed by such compradors are the other white people.

Seriously. Asking your brown friends to defend you, rather than sincerely and substantively addressing concerns from communities of color, really doesn’t win you any points with communities of color. At all. In fact, you end up looking like the manipulative white people you think you’re not, and ones we’ve seen before.

4.) SlutWalk as Anti-Feminist Battering Ram

Lastly, I have found some of the SlutWalk approach most problematic related to an ahistorical understanding of women’s organizing. Ironically, or maybe not so much, SlutWalk advocacy has come at the expense of the feminist movement, demonizing a struggle that has many hard-won victories to its credit.

To turn social justice and women’s self-determination into what one story refers to as an approach of “look, but don’t rape” seems fine to many. But why draw a line against feminists who don’t favor exclusionary language; believe women’s media representations (e.g. porn, advertising, sexualizing girls, etc.) shape people’s perceptions of women; and who fought for the rights you now enjoy? Does dismissing their criticism, especially when it’s shut down with uber-libertarian fuck-the-world-it’s-about-my-needs rhetoric, genuinely serve the people who need to have these conversations, or a cause you believe in (unless the cause is oneself)?

Moments like these prompt me to measure justice movements by other struggles’ starkest disagreements. To give an extremely brief synopsis of one instance I regularly consider, the mainstream and radical ends of the civil rights movement clashed mightily about integration, and more broadly the right to be in places at which one was unwelcome. What would the radical movement (whose threat of rise indubitably forced institutional concessions to the mainstream movement) have become had Malcolm X said, ‘I not only disagree with Rev. King, but I oppose his approach enough that I will stand with those who oppose him’? In spite of disagreements, Malcolm X defended King’s right to fight, confronting people like George Lincoln Rockwell in support of King.

And while, among SlutWalk folks, none have even a hint of a shadow of civil rights pioneers to claim, how they’ve responded to the feminist movement’s questions says a lot about who they are, their aspirations, and their regard for those who are peers.

In talking about her exposure to SlutWalk, Meghan Murphy at The F Word zeroes in on some of SlutWalk’s anti-feminist underpinnings. “Instead what I found, over and over again was, not only a refusal to align with feminism, but often, an outright aversion to it. I saw numerous attacks on radical feminism and radical feminists and I witnessed the reinforcement of negative and untrue stereotypes about feminism (you know the ones: man-hating, misandrist, no-fun, sex-negative, etc). While I do believe the organizers had good intentions, desiring that Slutwalk be inclusive to all, it began to look a lot like the ‘funfeminist’ – NO NO WE’RE THE CONVENTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE FEMINISTS. THE FUN ONES. WE’RE OK. WE LIKE PENISES AND PORN AND LOOKING SEXY kind of feminism that, in the end doesn’t successfully challenge much of anything, and simply repackages sexist imagery in ‘empowering’ wrapping paper.”

In short, it’s an old game: me versus a movement.

Special thanks to Gunjan Chopra for suggesting this topic, as well as editorial review of the article. Thanks to Ikonoklast for the reminder on epistemology.

I bolded the parts I thought were most crucial/important/summarizing. Can everyone involved with, participating in, or even thinking about SlutWalk please read this? I’m not personally trying to dissuade anyone from it, but these are things we MUST keep in mind. If we don’t consider ways to fix these (mostly unfixable) issues, there’s no point in continuing SlutWalk at all.

this is super fucking important

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